How we manage our working day is changing as new technologies allow us to be ever more flexible. Whereas once, not so long ago, we were stuck at our desks in one office surrounded by the same group of people, we might now be working from home, or hot desking either within a single building or from multiple locations.
With this new working setup, workers can feel pressure to be available 24 hours a day and some may feel stressed if they are not on hand when their boss calls.
At the same time, people may feel the need to keep in touch with friends via social media while at work, so it is not just work impacting on home life, but home life coming into the work place too – a ‘work/life merge’.
It is often thought that mobile technology allows work to get in the way of home life and many have attributed rising levels of stress to this situation. However recent research carried out by First Psychology’s Professor Ewan Gillon and Dr Lisa Harrow, found that while this may be the case for some people, others feel more stress when they are not able to keep in touch with work.
So stress is a personal thing and what stresses one person actually relieves stress in another. Therefore what is clearly important is for people to be in control of how they use mobile technologies so they can use them to best benefit their work and their own style of working. Simply imposing one way of working for everyone is counter-productive and can create unnecessary stress among employees.
Tips to get technology working in your favour
If you like to maintain contact with work while away and find this reduces your stress levels:
- Allocate times during the day for checking messages and make a conscious effort not to check outside of these times.
- Have a set time each evening when you switch off your mobile phone to allow yourself some technology-free time before bed.
- Make an effort to focus on your friends and family when you are with them and put the mobile away. A quick check of messages between courses or when you use the loo will keep you feeling in control.
If you feel invaded by technology:
- Make use of technology in instances where you need it to work in a flexible way, e.g. if you are off work waiting in for a plumber or you are away on business.
- Set aside times to check and reply to emails during the day so that you can get on with what you’re doing without constant interruption.
What was clear from our research was that mobile technology can be both friend AND foe, it’s how you use it that matters, and for it to become a friend, the decision on how it’s used has to be personal to you.
Feel free to contact us to ask about psychological therapies available at our centres that may help with work-life balance issues.